Sunday, May 6, 2012

Be Pretty

I have many lovely features. Nice eyes, for example. Shiny hair. Cute, size 5.5 feet. Unfortunately, an incredible bone structure is not one of them. I have one of those faces that, without the assistance of makeup to highlight the positive and bury the negative, looks like a beige blob.

But fear not! Thanks to the magic of makeup, I am generally regarded as a reasonable attractive person. Only my family, my boyfriend, my roommates and some close friends know the truth.

Here's what I've been using lately:

Philosophy Hope in a Jar, $39 for 2 oz. Confession: I just recently began using moisturizer on a daily basis. My rationale was, since I already have oily skin, wouldn't adding more moisture be totally counter-intuitive? But, no. Moisturizing on the reg is an excellent habit to get into today. Your skin will thank you when you're older.

Hope in a Jar has a cult following, and for good reason. I love the whipped texture, how smoothly it glides on and how quickly my skin seems to absorb it.

Estée Lauder Invisible Fluid Makeup, $35. This foundation. Is. The shit. I've been using it for a week, and I'm totally in love. I hate the feeling of heavy foundation, and when I wear this, it really feels like I'm not wearing anything at all. But, at the same time, it provides solid, medium coverage. Applying it with a brush yields the best results, but in the mornings I usually just use my fingers which works, too.

It's available in a daunting 16 colors, so I'd definitely recommend visiting a department store makeup counter (I went to Macy's) and asking for help picking out the perfect one. You'll never want to use anything else. Trust.

Tarte Matte Waterproof Bronzer, $29. Here's where the not-being-a-beige-blob thing comes in. Pixiwoo (hot British sisters who do YouTube makeup how-to videos) has a great contouring tutorial. She makes it look easy, but the more you practice, the better you get at it. The secret is to a.) have a VERY light hand and b.) take a clean brush when you're done and blend, blend blend.

This is a solid bronzer, and the shade is similar to the natural shadows in my face. I sweep some of this under my cheekbones and on the sides of my nose with a MAC 168 brush, and voila! I've faked a better bone structure than I actually have.

Bonus: this also makes for a great medium-brown eyeshadow that's perfect for subtle, daytime makeup. I love products that can work double-duty.

Edward Bess All Over Seduction, $38. I had heard awesome things about this brand but was too lazy to schlep uptown to Bergdorf Goodman to try it. So, I was thrilled when the Sephora in Union Square began carrying the product I was most curious about - a highlighter called All Over Seduction. And I was impressed - it's super-creamy, with sheer-but-buildable coverage. Best of all, it's subtle and not overly shimmery. I use this on my cheekbones and browbones for a nice sheen.

Korres Blush, $24. Lastly, I sweep this blush in Peachy Pink on my cheeks. It's pretty, but not particularly long-lasting. I'm close to running out, so I'm going to give Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush a try next.

So, there you have it: my daily makeup routine. Any products I simply must try? I welcome recommendations - leave 'em in the comments.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Tee Time

As I've mentioned before, my style has definitely become more streamlined and less girly in the past year or so. One reason is that many of the stylish ladies I work with are proponents of high-low dressing: pairing, say, a nice blouse with a pair of jeans or a t-shirt with a fancy skirt. I've also been inspired by Emmanuelle Alt, Vogue Paris editor-and-chief and the master of looking polished but casual:

The few white Gap t-shirts I acquired last year have proved to be wardrobe workhorses, so I've splurged on a couple tees in nicer fabrics:

I get so much wear out of this 3/4 Sleeve Henley from Chance ($68). My boyfriend complains about the number of girls in New York "walking around, trying to look like they're French" by wearing striped tees, but in the words of Chance's founder, Julia Leach, the striped t-shirt is "the paperclip of personal style." Leach is the former EVP/Creative Director of Kate Spade, and Chance has the same preppy appeal but is simpler and less precious.

This Painter Bateau Tee from J.Crew ($32.50) is a nice weight - perfect for spring. I bought one in "Blue Sea," which is more royal purple in person than dark blue, but it'll look great with white jeans and my standby gold studs. The small buttons at each shoulder and slim boatneck cut elevate it beyond your basic tee.

I also just ordered this Layers Long Sleeve Tee from Splendid ($48). Is $50 too much to spend on a simple white tee? Probably. But it looks so soft and stretchy, I had to give it a try.

And here are three more I've got my eye on:

I love my Chance tee so much, I'd definitely buy another. This classic Boatneck, $68, is adorable in nautical navy-and-white stripes.

As much as I love my cotton tees from Gap, I think a linen v-neck, like this one from Calypso ($65), would look a bit more polished.

$95 is way too much to spend on a t-shirt, but I love this drapy cowl neck tee, also from Calypso. It'd look great under a blazer. Calypso has an outlet shop in Soho, so hopefully it'll turn up there and I can make it mine!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

For Oily Creatures: John Masters Organics' Sea Mist

Let's be real: I'm a greasy creature. I'm Italian, so I've got oily skin, oily hair... it's a blessing and a curse. My dad, who has the same skin and hair type as I do, looks fantastic for his age, which hopefully bodes well for me, too. (Incidentally, my coworker said the other day that my dad reminds her of Roger Sterling, which gives me the willies because I have a huge crush on Sterling - who doesn't? But my dad also has more than two decades on John Slattery. Go, Dad!)

I've found that when dealing with oily skin, it's best to play to, rather than against, it's strengths. I'll never have Nicole Kidman's alabaster, matte skin, but I can totally pull off Jessica Alba's youthful, dewy look. I'm currently playing with my product regimen (expect a post on that soon), but I'm definitely finding that the less makeup, the better, and cremes work much better than powders.

However, you can't really make oily hair work (unless you're Taylor Kitsch). And in my case, even when I wash and style my hair in the morning, it's hard to keep it looking nice for the workday and beyond (I wash my hair daily because I work out almost everyday). In my experience, dry shampoo is very hit-or-miss, and the best method I've found to keep oil at bay is using a somewhat surprisingly product: John Masters Organics' Sea Mist.

I really like all the John Masters products I've tried, but they're pricey. Sea Mist is $16.50 on Amazon - certainly not cheap but worth every penny. Technically, this product is supposed to give you beachy waves, like you've been swimming in the ocean, but the idea of my hair having texture without some serious heat styling is laughable, so I use it in the morning to soak up oil.

Here's how I use it: after blow drying my hair until it's about 90% dry, I spray Sea Mist liberally, focusing on my scalp. Then, I blow dry it the remaining 10%. A few spritzes throughout the day controls oil, and if I want a pick-me-up after work, I can spray my scalp again, blast some warm air from the blow drier for a few moments, and I'm good to go.

Got any good tips to control oil for your skin or hair? Or are you one of those mythical creatures who washes her hair, like, once a week?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Jewelry Post

Get it, "post?" Like an earring post? Okay, that was lame.

I'm gonna cut right to the chase: jewelry. It's the frosting of dressing. The icing on the cake. An afterthought, but a delicious one that everyone agrees is the best part.

But everyone loves jewelry, right? Well, almost everyone, at least. We recently signed a new client and, as usual, I found and followed their Twitter handles. One's bio proclaimed she's a "hater of jewelry." Who hates jewelry?! Otherwise, she's lovely, though, so I'm not going to hold one baffling view against her.

Over the past several months, I've really focused on building my wardrobe so, particularly at work, I look classy and put-together, but I also want to dress in a way that reflects my personality. Clothing is the visual language you use to communicate to the world, and I want my message to be on-point. I had only a few basic work-appropriate pieces when I started my new job about eight months ago (and used to be that person who was either in corporate attire or gym clothes), so I've mostly worked on acquiring blouses and trousers. But I wanted to make sure I wasn't neglecting jewelry, either - the afterthought that makes a big difference between a polished and unpolished outfit. So I did something that, in my opinion, was pretty smart - I bought a pair of earrings and a necklace that I could wear everyday, and that was that.

I bought these earrings, from a brand called Nishi, at a small boutique in the East Village called duo. It's owned by two really sweet sisters; the clothing is cute but not really my style, and the jewelry selection is fantastic. All these cool, funky pieces that are delicate enough to wear with a classic outfit. From afar, these earrings look like simple gold studs, but up close you can see they're pyramid-shaped. They're polished with an edge, which is my style exactly. In fact, they've become such a staple in my wardrobe that I'm considering investing in a second pair! The price isn't listed on duo's site, but to my memory, they were about $100 and worth every penny.

I bought my everyday necklace, actually, at one of those street fairs. If you live in NYC, you know what I'm talking about. I live for those fairs: you can always find cute necklaces and scarves at a really reasonable price. Anyway, my necklace has a delicate gold chain with a small, faceted lapis stone. I wear a lot of jewel tones, black, and white, so it matches virtually everything in my closet. And I must have paid about $25 for it.

So by now, I've been wearing these pieces nearly everyday for the past eight months. I still love 'em, but I also want to add a few new pieces into the mix. I really like these Mushroom Post Earrings from Elizabeth and James, $55. They're basically a tiny, classic gold stud, but the irregularities in shape keep them interesting.

I also adore these Square Spiked Studs by Jessica Elliot, $105. These are a more substantial take on the pyramid studs I already wear. It's the same deal - taking something timeless and roughing it up just a bit. I clearly have an M.O.

Lastly, I'm obsessed with these Astrid Studs from Katie Diamond, $150. They're just like the earrings I wear now, but they're made with black garnet. That is all.

Now, on to necklaces. Again, I love my reliable lapis pendent, but variety is the spice of life.

At $286, this Arielle Necklace from J. Lingnau is definitely pricey, but it's so timeless, you'd wear it forever (this is how I justify any large purchase). I much prefer gold jewelry to silver, but I do love the contrast of a silver pendent and a gold chain. Both this necklace and the earrings above are from catbird, a Brooklyn boutique that many a blogger raves about. I've never been, because I suspect it would wreak havoc upon my wallet. Seriously, everything in its online store is amazing.

For something a little different, there's this Satin Gold Hinged Collar from Kenneth Jay Lane, $215. Like all young adults who came of age in the 90s, I am nostalgic for that era, so I'm thrilled that chokers are making a comeback. Seriously, there are many relics of 90s fashion I don't need to see a second time - grunge, spaghetti straps, frosted lipstick - but chokers are welcome back anytime. Anyway, the Kenneth Jay Lane collar speaks to the choker-loving 90s kid in me, but it also has a bit of a Spartacus OR The Jetsons vibe going on. I honestly can't decide which. But I dig it.

Now, to be perfectly honest, I don't really wear bracelets, rings or a watch. I'd never use a watch - I have a cell phone that tells me what time it is. A couple years ago, my body changed from skinny-ish to athletic, and my feet shrunk half a size, along with my fingers - none of my rings fit anymore, and I haven't bought any new ones. And bracelets often interfere with long sleeves and are generally cumbersome.

BUT. I do really like this Screw Cuff from Miansai, $165. There's something about jewelry that requires a fair amount of effort to take on and off. It's almost... a little bondage-y (with this statement, I suspect I've revealed that I know nothing about bondage). It's sort of industrial, but beautiful, too.

What about you? Do you have a go-to set of jewelry, or do you like to mix it up? Am I crazy for not wanting to wear silver jewelry? Is my taste abhorrent? Let me know in the comments.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Wearing the Pants

Even though it just got really cold in New York, now is the time when retailers start unveiling their Resort offerings online, and while I'm not jetting off to St. Barts any time soon, it makes me think about warm weather gear.

A major sartorial shift for me, in 2011, was that I began dressing a bit more boyishly. I became drawn to utilitarian-but-luxe pieces like silk button-downs from Madewell and wool straight-leg trousers. With spring fashion on the brain, I've begun scouring the internets for some warm-weather alternatives. These are all from Nordstrom, and some are a bit out of my price range, so I'll continue searching for less costly alternatives.

Let's start with my favorite: the Paige "Gilmore" Crop Slim Leg Pants, $298. I love "cigarette pants" like this one - they're gamine and slightly retro, but the raspberry color makes them totally fresh. One of my favorite blogs, Corporette, is all about looking professional and stylish, and experimenting with color is a big part of that. So instead of wearing these pants with a tried-and-true white button-down and black heels, what about a navy blouse and yellow pumps? Or, if you did decide to go the safer route, you could add a turquoise belt and lapis-hued necklace to add interest.

Also fun: these Elie Tahari Exclusive for Nordstrom "Sloane" Crop Pants, $128. I've been seeing this shade of blue everywhere lately. Having spent many, many hours of my adolescence creating websites, I know this hue well: it's "cornflower blue," AKA #6495ED. Anyway, it'd pair nicely with a yellow blouse. Or maybe a cream shell and red heels? Ooh.

Because every woman needs a pair (or several) of great black pants, I've included these Vince Camuto Cuff Ankle Pants, $79. They are petite - good for me because I'm 5'3, bad for you if you're genetically superior. Anyway, one of the "rules" discussed on Corporette is that you should always have 2+ colors (besides black) in an outfit at a time. In other words, don't wear this with a colorful blouse and black heels - throw bright shoes or a vibrant scarf or even a bold pair of earrings into the mix, too. Or go for head-to-toe black - I like the idea of wearing these pants with a silky black tank, black ballet flats and gold jewelry for a modern take on Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face.

On Banana Republic's website, I like these "Sloan" slim fit ankle pants, $89.50 (yes, same-ish name as the Elie Tahari pair; both conjure memories of Ferris Bueller's girlfriend, which is not a bad thing). BR touts these as a seasonless staple, and I covet clothing I can wear year-round. (Although, really, the only garment befitting sweltering New York City summers is a cotton sundress.) These are navy, which is my #1 favorite color to wear (so much so that I've banned myself from buying anything navy for awhile), but they also come in black and khaki. It's worth noting that I have a similar, slightly more cropped pair in black, also purchased from BR, that I wear all the time - with heels, with flats, tucked into boots, in the winter, in the summer, for work, for play. So... these would probably be a smart buy.

Speaking of summers in the city, what's your stance on bermuda shorts?

This pair from Vince, $195 (available in khaki as well), would satisfy my dedication to pants without causing heatstroke in the summer. My office is pretty casual, so I could see myself wearing these with a cotton tee, a wispy cardigan or linen blazer, and shorter heels or wedges, and looking polished but comfortable. What do you think? Am I deranged? Give me your best armchair diagnosis in the comments section.